Myth #3: You can’t include dairy in the diet if you are lactose intolerant


Symptoms related to lactose intolerance can be very uncomfortable, even painful and embarrassing. I can understand why anyone on the spectrum of lactose intolerance may prefer to just avoid all dairy products. However, depending on the amount of ‘lactase’ (the enzyme which breaks down lactose) found in the small intestine, most people with lactose intolerance can have small amounts of lactose as some dairy products are easier to digest than others.

For example, one cup of cows milk has the most lactose at 12-13g/cup while goat’s milk isn’t far behind at 11g/cup. Cottage cheese has 3g/½ cup while ice cream has 3-6g/½ cup.  Although yogurt has about 6g per ¾ cup, a small amount of yogurt is often tolerated by those with lactose intolerance as the bacteria in yogurt helps with the digestion of the lactose. Also, there are lactose-free yogurts available on the market these days as well. 

Many cheeses, on the other hand, are generally accepted by those with lactose intolerance. As lactose is the type of sugar found in cheese, any cheeses without sugar are also lactose-free. Cheeses are lactose-free if they are hard, due to drainage of lactose into the liquid (whey) and old, due to fermentation of the lactose. Cheeses that are generally lactose-free are cheddars, hard parmesan and swiss. Cheeses that are generally low in lactose include goat cheese, blue, brie and ricotta. All of the above cheeses can be digested by many people living with lactose intolerance. 

If avoiding or reducing lactose, keep in mind that many prepared products do contain hidden lactose and therefore, it is important to look for the following words on ingredient lists which indicate the presence of lactose: milk solids, milk powder, buttermilk, curds, whey and yogurt.

Working with a dietitian can help you discover which dairy products and amounts can be tolerated in order to ensure a varied, balanced diet, free of symptoms. 

Any other nutrition myths you’ve heard of, follow or are just interested in? Contact me at and I can discuss the  myth in an upcoming newsletter/blog.

Eat Well Halifax,
Nicole Marchand, RD

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